29 September 2017

Borscht, how I love thee...

I know it's not cool to say this, but I really love beets.  And I particularly love them in borscht.  They are sweet, earthy, and a great carrier for all things acidic and creamy. Beets are doing great in the garden right now, so you should find your own favorite recipe and make it over and over until your poop looks like you're going to die (just kidding, that will happen after just one bowl).

This is a hot borscht that's very fresh but hearty for cooler weather. This recipe is vegetarian, but you could pop some pre-made little meat balls in at the end of the cooking time, as well:

Ukrainian/ Russian Steppe Borscht

Serves 6-8

3 medium beets, peeled and cubed
3 carrots, peeled and shredded
3 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
3/4 cup water
1/2 medium head cabbage, cored and shredded
1 (8 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup sour cream, for topping
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill for garnish

Fill a large pot halfway with water (about 2 quarts), and bring to a boil. Add the beets, and cook until they have lost their color. Add the carrots and potatoes, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Add the cabbage, and the can of diced tomatoes.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook until tender. Stir in the tomato paste and water until well blended. Transfer to the pot. Add the raw garlic to the soup, cover and turn off the heat. Let stand for 5 minutes. Taste, and season with salt, and pepper.
Ladle into serving bowls, and garnish with sour cream, if desired, and fresh dill.

If it's still hot where you live, this summery cold borscht (very Lithuanian) is just the thing:

Cold Borscht

Serves 4

2 pounds of beets (5-6 beets, depends on size)
1 cucumber
2-3 eggs
5 green onions
Small bunch of fresh green dill
2 quarts of kefir or buttermilk
About 2 quarts of cold water
3 tablespoons of sour cream
Salt and black pepper to taste

Boil the beets skin-on and cool them down to room temperature; also boil eggs till hard, cool then down too; rinse greens and cucumber. Once boiled beets are cooled down, skin them: take a big cooking pot and grate the boiled beets into it using the large slots of grater. Peel and dice the eggs and add them to the cooking pot. Dice the cucumber and add to the cooking pot. Chop the green onions and add to the cooking pot. Add finely chopped fresh dill. Add 2-3 tablespoons of sour cream and season with salt and pepper. Mix everything; add all buttermilk or kefir. Add about the same amount of water (or more, to taste) and mix everything. Cover cooking pot with a lid and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.